Ken Gurnick: So stupid, it’s actually beautiful shared its ballots today, and a number of them have Bonds and Clemens on there, which makes me happy. Then, of course, there’s Ken Gurnick. Here is his ballot.

KEN GURNICK, Dodgers beat reporter

Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Player Award votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won’t vote for any of them.

That’s not a highlight of his ballot — he literally only voted for Jack Morris. Take a moment to reflect on the stupidity. Then, Rob Neyer counterattacked. The salient points is (with more profanity, because Rob Neyer is nicer than I am): “Hey, fuckwad, Jack Morris pitched during the PED era. You make Murray Chass look like a goddamned Bill James fan.” Neyer’s “correction” was hilarious and to the point:

Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for winning a lot of games and pitching one really big game, even though I know the rules say you’re not supposed to elect a guy because of one really big game. As for those who played most of their careers while I was actually sort of paying attention to steroids, I won’t vote for any of them. Or Alan Trammell, because I just don’t understand that he was a great player.

Don’t worry, guys — only one more day before the HOF ballots are done, I can write my last piece about it, and we can forget about until next year.


Latest enemy: Murray Chass

Murray Chass has, for a long time, been an old coot. However, then I saw this from Deadspin.

I’ll emphasize what Deadspin emphasize, because it’s fucking sick.

Finally, an announcement that will disappoint Neyer, Calcaterra and the reader who, like those two bloggers, said they were delighted that this was the last time I would be voting for the Hall of Fame. Sorry, guys I never made it definite.

I said “barring a change in my thinking,” this could be my last vote. My thinking has changed, and all of you critics can blame yourselves. How could I relinquish my vote knowing how much it annoys you? I plan to vote a year from now even if I just send in a blank ballot. You would love that.

This makes me sick to my stomach. I mean, instead of making this argument what it should be — who deserves to be recognized amongst baseball’s all-time greats — you’re going to fuck over everyone so you can troll Rob Neyer. Can we please kick this pompous asshole out of the BBWAA?


I leave the Internet for one stinkin’ day…

We begin our story, Sunday, with a defeat of the Browns by Pittsburgh. Bothersome, but not surprising. Pittsburgh was playing for the playoffs — the Browns were playing for nothing. Or were they? (Spoiler alert: They were.) Am I saying that if they beat Pittsburgh, Chud doesn’t get fired? Yes. Yes I am. But, this level of stupidity deserves more analysis. Here’s Terry Pluto.

I do know that Chud looked pretty good when he had a respectable quarterback in Brian Hoyer.

That’s right, Internet — you just saw “respectable quarterback” and “Brian Hoyer” in the same sentence. CLEVELAND! Terry Pluto, quite rightly, says this is a matter of the front office not knowing what it wanted. I still think they don’t know what they want, but at least they are categorically convinced it isn’t Chud. Maybe. However, this is the Browns. There can’t be just the one reason (the front office fucked up). What do you have to say, Tony Grossi?

The coaches became unsatisfied with the front office’s response to holes in the roster. For example, management wanted to blend in more younger players and expected the coaches to get them up to speed. When the toll of additional injuries taxed the roster, Chudzinski was expected to win with a threadbare roster. […]

At one point, Chudzinski was urged by Banner to “shake up” the locker room by cutting wide receiver Greg Little or guard Shawn Lauvao. Chudzinski declined, and that was interpreted as Chudzinski not holding players accountable for their failings.

In recent weeks, a disagreement arose about a future role for receivers coach Scott Turner, the son of coordinator Norv Turner. Chudzinski, a source said, wanted to switch Turner to running backs coach. Norv Turner objected and the brushfire became another strike against Chudzinski.

I have to put the blame squarely on Chud here. When he was hired, it was clear that he was just expected to be the Xs and Os guy. And, to be fair, the team sucked. Since we had more Pro Bowlers (5) than wins (4), obviously the front office did a great job, so it must be that the coach sucked. Fire his ass!

Bill Livingston, Old Coot, tried to work in a Ghostbusters reference that, really, really didn’t work. The column’s kind of rambling, but that’s the big take away I got.

Mary Kay Cabot had the analysis of the press conference with Haslett and Banner.

[Haslett] noted that it was an “expensive move” to fire Chudzinski, who’s still owed $10.5 million.

“We’re not only just saying it, we’re talking with our pocketbook here,” he said. “So these are not cheap moves to make, and I’m not saying that should be the guiding factor, but we’re doing everything we can to get this right.”

Excuse me while I shed a single tear of sympathy for you having to pay for your own incompetence. Okay, I’m done. So, in the immortal words of pro wrestling’s Goldberg: “Who’s next?”

Mike Tanier, Sports on Earth:

Cleveland Browns

What Went Wrong With the Last Guy: Rob Chudzinski could not win with Jason Campbell at quarterback and guys like Fozzy Whittaker at running back. In other words, he was neither Vince Lombardi nor Alexander the Great.

Boss Rating: D. From the Trent Richardson trade to Brian Hoyer’s depth chart leapfrog to the Chud firing, Mike Lombardi (no relation) and Joe Banner have established themselves as impatient hands-on executives trying to win back-to-back Super Bowls in early October. At times, it appears that Lombardi acts quickly so he can beat Banner to a decision, or perhaps it’s vice versa. The Browns may be Lombardi’s team, they may be Banner’s, the execs may duke it out in the parking lot, or the IRS may confiscate the whole shebang if owner Jimmy Haslam’s diesel receipts don’t add up. But they will never be the head coach’s team, unless he wades into the Game of Thrones.

Quarterback Situation: C-minus. The Browns have two first-round picks and Brian Hoyer, a steady young journeyman with a little upside who is also Lombardi’s pet project. The franchise has 14 years of experience making dismal quarterback controversies out of first-round picks and pet-project journeymen.

Building Blocks: B. Two first round picks, the best deep threat receiver in the NFL in Josh Gordon, and Jordan Cameron, a cross between Antonio Gates and Jason Witten at tight end.

Young Talent: B-minus. There’s a sprinkle of young stars and solid prospects around the roster, from Gordon and Cameron to Joe Haden. Mitchell Schwartz, Phil Taylor and Barkevious Mingo. There are also glaring deficiencies, starting with an entire backfield in need of replacement.

Salary Cap Situation: A-minus. The Browns will eat $6 million of Trent Richardson’s dead money next year, but should clear the cap by at least $25 million, giving them wiggle room to extend Gordon and/or Cameron, pursue a free agent or two, or cut bait on Brandon Weeden without choking on the cap hit.

Free Agent Issues: B-plus. Center Alex Mack and safety T.J. Ward are the biggest names; Mack will likely be prioritized. The Browns have the space to play ball with any lower-tier free agents they like.

Quick Turnaround Potential: C-plus. Enough rebuilding took place in 2013 to allow two top rookies and an upgraded quarterback situation to make a difference, but the AFC North schedule remains an endurance marathon against three challenging opponents.

Overall Desirability: C-minus. The next Browns coach is the fifth in seven years, and he walks into a power struggle above him which is likely to undermine the roster below him. Cap money and draft picks are nice, but there is little evidence that the next coach will have any say in how they are used.

Terry Pluto says much the same, but with less snark, here.

At the end of the day, this is nothing less than a catastrophic failure. I don’t care what Haslett and Banner say — it began and ended with Chud wanting some control over the roster. Banner and Haslett wanted the football equivalent of Joe Torre — do what you’re told and shut up. Of course, Joe Torre had a great roster, and being a baseball manager is more about dealing with personalities.

I wish you all the best, Chud, if you’re reading this blog (and I know you aren’t.) To the Browns front office: You handled this better than Dan Snyder did with Mike Shanahan. That is the nicest thing I can say.


Murray Chass: Professional moron

I can’t properly call Murray Chass a curmudgeon, because curmudgeons are at least somewhat loveable; Chass is just an idiot. Rob Neyer has the latest.

If you want to claim that steroids is cheating now, I can’t disagree — there’s a punishment for it and everything. But to exclude players solely on the basis on the fact that they used steroids is lunacy. It’s lunacy because no one — NO ONE — honestly thinks of Eric Gagne or Paul LoDuca as Hall of Famers whether they used steroids or cybernetic arms. (Okay, maybe for cybernetic arms.) Eric Gagne was a pretty great closer for a couple of seasons. Paul LoDuca was an above average catcher, like 60% of Ivan Rodriguez. Neither of them are even borderline Hall of Famers, unless your definition of “border” says that the USA borders on Brazil. I mean, okay, we share the Atlantic Ocean. That’s pretty much it.

Also, Jack Morris isn’t a Hall of Famer. He just isn’t. I’ve already written on that.

But perhaps the sentence that pisses me off the most is this one:

These non-exes won’t get my vote because they were proved to have cheated, admitted they cheated or are strongly suspected of having cheated.

If we go with the mass hysteria over the alleged steroids era, that means every. single. player. in the 1990s used steroids. That includes you, David Eckstein, you fucking steroid junkie. You too, Darren Erstad. No wonder you were also a punter! IT WAS THE ‘ROIDS. I’m exaggerating slightly, but “strongly suspected of having cheated” is pretty much carte blanche to ignore an entire era. I’m sorry, but any human being who can say with straight face that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are not two of the greatest baseball players in the history of this planet is an idiot.

About one stupid article away from punting on ESPN

There was a time when ESPN was my go-to source for sporting news. These were the halcyon days, when you had Rob Neyer and Buster Olney covering baseball, Bill Simmons talked mostly about basketball but covered other stuff too, I didn’t hate Gregg Easterbrook yet, John Clayton covered football… good times.

Then they decided to go hyper regional. Which gives us this dreck.

The title reads “The Browns can build around Joe Haden.” I think to myself, hmm… an article about building a football team around an elite cornerback first? That should be interesting.

But no. It’s more “Joe Haden = good football player!” and “resign TJ Ward” and “Joe Haden x 2 = 2 good football players!” I don’t disagree with resigning TJ Ward. I don’t disagree that Joe Haden is awesome. I disagree when you say “build around” when you really mean “Joe Haden = good football player!!” (It’s in the title here, so it gets TWO exclamation points. That means it’s doubly analytical and stuff!) Oh, and to add insult to injury, he decides to give him a slick new nickname — H! There is absolutely no way such a profound and brilliant suggestion could ever, EVER, go wrong. EVER. Oh, and maybe you were looking for proof that he’s a great player?

Here’s an actual quote.

Despite using premium resources on pass-rushers this past offseason, Cleveland’s defense still doesn’t rush the quarterback as well as they should. Despite registering 39 sacks over 15 games they have failed to generate consistent pressure. Still, the Browns’ pass-defense is well above average.

Okay, so they suck at pass rushing. (I would quibble with that, but whatever.) How does that make their pass-defense well above average? Because other teams have not, in fact, scored infinity points on the Browns this year? Maybe they just got tired. Maybe they felt bad. Maybe the concession stands offered them free beer during every break. Maybe, like in Blitz the League, the Browns front office hires hookers for the other team to give them the clap. [Still a high point in the history of gaming, I must say.] WE DON’T KNOW BECAUSE YOUR ARTICLE IS GARBAGE.

At least they put Jamison Hensley on the Ravens only desk.

Fuck you, Venus.

*The planet, not the goddess or the tennis player. MAYBE the statue. What’s with the arms, statue? Something to hide?!

Sports on Earth is quickly becoming a treasure trove of analysis and hilarity. (Hilarysis, I like to call it. This word is far better than trying to do it the other way. DO NOT TRY IT THE OTHER WAY.) This article was genuinely entertaining and informing.

All I have to say is Dan Dierdorf and Tim McCarver soon being out of pro sports delights me to no end.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer team

Grantland has a great story here. I can’t rightly call this Schadenfreude because it’s all joy, baby. The Yankees have dominated MLB for too long and deserve a little vacation. This cannot be anything other than good for baseball.

With that said, I think the most amazing thing is how incredible Robinson Cano is. As the article mentions, he was the best player in baseball for the last four years by bWAR. Number of MVPs won? Zero. He’s placed third exactly once (2010). A Yankee — and I’m throwing up a little in my mouth just typing this — is underrated. I didn’t think that was possible. It’s close — the top five, BTW, are Cano, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Clayton Kershaw, and Joey Votto — but that doesn’t excuse his being overlooked in the hardware department. Now Seattle is paying him scads of money to be just as awesome (probably) but for a terrible team that is managed by the equivalent of fungus.

Okay, I guess there’s the tiniest bit of shame there after all.